The closed beta for World of Warcraft developer Blizzard’s shooter Overwatch will not return this month as was previously planned. Game director Jeff Kaplan said today in the game’s forums that it’s taking longer than anticipated to pore over feedback from the beta’s first run. As such, the goal for the beta to return in mid-to-late January will not be met. It’s now scheduled to return sometime in February.
Another reason for the delay, Kaplan said, is because Blizzard is working on a new game mode that will be available when Overwatch’s closed beta starts back up again next month.
“After looking through all of the feedback from last year, one of the things we noticed players consistently mentioning was their desire for more game modes in Overwatch, in addition to Point Capture and Payload,” he explained. “Without getting into specifics, we are working on a new game mode. And we’re very excited about it! And we have some great new maps to support it, too, but we need a little more time to get everything just right.”
Kaplan said Blizzard could have rushed to get the Overwatch closed beta out in January, but it wouldn’t have been possible to deliver the new mode and maps in that time frame.
“We’re going to take a few extra weeks before bringing the closed beta back,” he said. “By doing so, we can make sure we can include the new game mode along with the new maps. This will also allow us to do some additional polish to the game’s progression and reward system. Though all these features will still technically be a work-in-progress during the beta, we’d like them to be at a certain quality bar before releasing them for testing.”
Overall, Kaplan said it was “an easy choice” to delay the return of Overwatch’s closed beta for the reasons listed above. No exact date for the beta’s return has been announced, but Kaplan said the goal now is sometime in mid-February; Blizzard will try to provide at least one week’s notice before it starts again.
Kaplan also said it’s unlikely that the beta’s return will slip into March.
The Overwatch closed beta opened in late October and closed down on December 10. In that time, more than 900,000 games were played, providing Blizzard with large amounts of “raw data” and feedback.
Everyone who was in the first beta will still have access when it returns, and more people will be added. You can opt in to the Overwatch beta through your Battle.net profile.
Overwatch is also coming to Xbox One and PS4, though a beta for consoles has not been announced.